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How To Brainstorm Domain Names

How To Brainstorm Domain Names
How To Brainstorm Domain Names

If you’re in the business of creating websites and registering domain names you will have encountered the all important question: What do we call it?

When starting a business, now-a-days, thinking of a name that could be registered as a domain is very important [if you will operate a lot on the web]. That said, availability of a name shouldn’t compromise what you are actually trying to achieve with the name.

First of all I’ll draw on Chris Garrett’s post on choosing domain names [see How To Choose A Domain Name]. He identifies some pitfalls of domain name branding and what you should be looking for when choosing one:

  • How original and unique is it?
  • How descriptive is it?
  • What image does it convey?
  • Would you remember it after seeing it once?
  • Could you spell it after hearing it once?
  • Conveniently, those points are pretty much in the correct order for brainstorming names.

    First find one that’s available, then discuss whether it works or not. Does it say what you want? Are there negative images or ideas associated that don’t fit? Is it memorable and easy for new users to find after maybe hearing about it in conversation?

    Brainstorm

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    I think the first rule for brainstorming is having a partner. A second opinion is crucial for weeding out what you think might sound good at first but really isn’t right. This is almost like instantly having that realization when you think of an idea, walk away, and then come back to it later.

    Before beginning some guidelines should be laid out. That is, what you are looking for in the name, keywords, length and general ideas associated. This should be kept pretty general and not strictly adhered to if necessary. That way new and better ideas can come up.

    Throwing ideas at each other can be done in two manners:

    1. The first is the no-critique approach where no idea is too dumb and everything gets written down. After which you revise the list and whittle it down to only the good stuff.

    From there you cut more and more until you have the name. If no resolution is found, you do it all over again – eventually the right name will come.

    2. The second method is more of a conversation and, I think, works best for domain registrations. With each name a snap judgment should be made. Making quick decisions is perfect because domain names are your first point of contact and, generally for branding purposes, should make a good first impression.

    What’s great about working with a partner and just throwing ideas at each other is, usually, a name will come up that both parties instantly agree on. It’s a zen sort of moment when nothing is said for a second and everyone is in. Like most idea generation, when it happens you will know.

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    How To Brainstorm Domain Names

    Availability

    More important than anything when talking about domain names is availability. You can’t register something that’s already registered, so brainstorming is important. While brainstorming name ideas there are a few tools that will help.

    Using instant domain searches are great because they provide instant notification when a domain name is unavailable. This is important when brainstorming because you can instantly have an idea shut down and move on to the next. This saves a lot of time.

    One’s I’ve used are InstantDomainSearch.com and AjaxDomainSearch.com which work fine, but my preference is AjaxWhois.com for one reason.

    AjaxWhois stands out because of it’s Favoriting feature. When you come across a name that works and is available [your maybe’s] you can save them on the site for future reference.

    To Note

    I have found that sometimes when one of these fast domain searches say a domain is available you will later find, when attempting to register, that it isn’t.

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    In which case it’s a good idea to have your host or where ever you register your domains open as well so you can check the ‘available’ domain names. This is just a case of double checking since, for some reason, those searches make mistakes.

    Ideas For The Future

    Darren Rowse brought up an interesting point about future-proofing your domain name and extending it’s use later down the line [see Choosing The Domain Name For Your Blog].

    For instance, you don’t want your site to look dated based on it’s name alone. Likewise, if your business [or blog] outgrows the limits of your domain how could you expand properly?

    Another ‘future factor’ to consider is how many blogs you’re thinking of starting on your domain. Take a look at About.com for an example of how it’s possible to have one domain with many blogs running off it. They blog ‘about’ hundreds of topics and have a domain name that suits this perfectly.

    Top Level Domains

    The benefit of sticking to a .com [instead of .net or .com.au etc] is standardization. When talking about your site and letting word of mouth and other marketing do it’s thing, having something that is easy and known works best.

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    When you mention to someone that you have speaker site about monitor speakers that is called Speaker Freaker, you don’t want to be correcting everyone that it’s actually a .net and not the, always assumed, .com.

    Also to consider is cost. In Australia a .com.au is much more expensive than a .com and requires a registered business number [ABN]. This is great for availability and recognition as a business, but bad for keeping the costs down and, generally, international appeal.

    Criteria

    I would group certain criteria to keep in mind when registering any domain name. These are as follows:

  • Availability – is it up for grabs?
  • Suitability – does it fit the business, content or target audience?
  • Memorability – can someone just hear about it and put it in their address bar without errors?
  • There is some leniency for the Suitability criteria. You may decide on a name that is almost completely unrelated to your business based on branding alone. Think of Nike or Darren’s example of BoingBoing.

    With this checklist and a good understanding of what you want the site to do, you should find that all elusive domain name to be easier to snatch than you think.

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on May 14, 2019

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

    1. Zoho Notebook
      If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
    2. Evernote
      The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
    3. Net Notes
      If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
    4. i-Lighter
      You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
    5. Clipmarks
      For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
    6. UberNote
      If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
    7. iLeonardo
      iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
    8. Zotero
      Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

    I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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    In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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